Wait! You Mean I Was an Orphan?

Like all children, Annelise loves to listen to stories about how she came into this world. Except in her case, some of those early details are a bit fuzzy, there are things we just don't know so there are a few blanks we can't fill in for her. We've always been upfront and open about her adoption and how she came to us (or how we came to her), but I'm learning that she is starting to process things a little differently now that she's getting older.

Oh. Great.

Last night, in between mouthfuls of spaghetti and meatballs while we were eating dinner at Zio's, she out of the blue (like usual) asked us to tell her a Russia story. So Scott and I started retelling the one about our first official day with her, each sharing snippets in some sort of misty adoptive parent tag team way.

I piped up in between bites of my Shrimp Limone that Daddy and I had to get her dressed from diaper, several layers of clothes, to snowsuit and shoes while the nannies in the orphanage watched us and I'm fairly positive ridiculed us in rapid fire Russian as clueless new parents. Everything that morning seemed to happen in a weird, unexplainable combination of supersonic speed and extra slow motion at the same time. The nannies stripped Annelise down to bare nekkidness in approximately 5 seconds, she, of course, burst out crying on the changing table. My nerves were in overdrive as I fumbled in my I'm a New Momma Diaper bag for a diaper and the clothes we brought for her and Scott and I both tried to get a diaper on her. I felt like I was on a Russian version of Candid Camera.

Yes, it took two. We got better.

We've told Annelise that story before many times, but for some reason last night she connected with the word orphanage. I was rambling merrily along when she stopped me with an important question.

"Wait a minute! You mean I was an orphan?"

Now that she's six and thanks to her recent recital where one of the songs was "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie she's obviously much more in tune with what it means to be an orphan.

Her brain clicked.

She looked at me with a mixture of disbelief and comprehension.

I looked back at her with my heart hurting at the fact that yes, the beautiful, spunky, smart six year old sitting next to me with spaghetti sauce on her chin was technically an orphan for the first 13 months of her life. And now she knows what that means.

I nodded slightly.

Scott and I continued to look at her across the table for what seemed like hours, but was only a few seconds, waiting expectantly, to see if she was going to burst out crying or something. My brain swirled wondering what I should say, how much to say, do we need to go to counseling?

She took another bite of spaghetti, swallowed, and asked us to tell her about the time she threw up on me.

I'll take that as a no for counseling.


  1. HA! What good parents you are. I love how resilient kids are.

  2. Holly....I love to hear other people's adoption stories! Like you, we have always talked about adoption/orphanage/unknown facts....Gracie is nearing 8 years old and we became a family when she was 8 mos. old....it's so interesting to hear about those little "a ha" moments. This one was so very cute! Thank you for sharing, sweet girl!
    (ps: I loved the Mary Poppins dance costume....we saw Mary on Broadway in NYC in March....incredible!)

  3. LOVED that story! I was near tears waiting to read what her reaction was. I know she feels loved and confident. You are both great parents!

  4. Love that story! As if visions of her taking the stage singing "tomorrow" went through her head for a brief moment before she decided she wanted to hear the throw up story. You had me holding my breath for a second hoping this ended on a happy note :)

  5. What a great ending to what could have been a very upsetting story!!

  6. Love that story! And love that you have Zio's too - I had no idea it was a chain...it was one of my favorite places to eat growing up.
    I laughed at the dressing story and it brought back a memory of me trying to put on a hospital t-shirt on Mini the day she was born in the nurse's station while they ate lunch. I couldn't remember how to do it and this was my second adoption! I hated to ask the nurse to put down her Dr. Pepper to help me but I did :)

  7. I love it!

    We took the kids to counseling a few years back-- I had concerns they might have anger isuues about no father in their life, having 2 moms, etc. The counselor finally told us that the kids were fine and if Kim and I thought the kids needed counseling then maybe we were the ones who were overreacting and needed counseling. :-)

    It's amazing how resilient children are. Annelise is blessed to have you as parents!

  8. This brought tears to my eyes, you tell this so well, even though I'm not an adoptive parent I can SO relate to that moment when you waited to see how she'd react. Kids are so resilient, aren't they? I love it.

  9. Hard knocks is not at all what defines A's life. She is the luckiest little beauty I know.

  10. I love the way you write, Holly!

    It never ceases to amaze me of how kids can switch their brains from heavy topics to simple ones in a matter of minutes...

    The ending of this story is so funny!

  11. i love this story and have to echo what others have said: 1 - a is so loved and she knows it. it's evident in her happy face and in her confidence and the fact that she's so trusting that you will be honest with her. and 2- kids are incredibly resilient. you're such a great mom. i love it!

  12. Thanks everyone for your kind words! I guess all aspects of parenting make for an interesting journey, no matter the beginning, and we're always worrying about how does this or that effect them. Thank goodness they are SO resilient--for lots of reasons!

  13. Holly, it is so great to be able to do some blogging again. Now that the boys are taking some naps and can play a little, time is much more abundant...
    I love your story as it rings close to home over here in our house. My girls were adopted, as you may know, from Russia and this same topic came up around age six too. Now that they are almost eight - they have a lot more questions. I do my best to answer them! Take care and hope you have been well. Michelle :)

  14. I discovered you on instagram thru hausofgirls running challenge...and a quick glance at your feed told me you had adopted. a closer glance made me wonder if it was a eastern european country. (my husband and i have been registered with bulgaria for nearly 17 months, currently waiting on a referral) curiosity killed me so i jumped over to your blog. i have only read a few posts but i was in tears...until i read the part about "tell me the time i threw up on you". lol. oh i have a long road ahead of me. love your honesty! what a beautiful daughter you have!


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